Tuesday, January 10, 2012

More Bad News for Construction Industry Employment

Overall American employment added 1.6 million jobs in 2011, compared with only 940,000 jobs added to the economy in 2010. Unemployment has dropped from 9.6% last year to only 8.9% now. Still, some 14 million Americans remain out of work.

In spite of these encouraging overall gains, the employment situation in the construction industry remains bleak. Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce released a study last week analyzing 2009 and 2010 Census Bureau Community Survey data, and concluding that among all recent college graduates, the highest unemployment of all, at 13.9%, is the group with degrees in architecture, comparing quite unfavorably with overall unemployment of only 8.9% for recent college grads as a whole population.

Bureau of Labor Statistics data for December 2011, showed 200,000 jobs created for the month, but only 17,000 of those were in the construction sector of the economy. Across the United States December 2011, industrial construction starts totaled only $10 billion, including $4.6 billion in power generation and distribution; $1.8 billion in manufacturing; $1.2 billion in the pharmaceutical and biotech sectors; and $1.0 billion in the food and beverage sectors. Geographically, $2.8 billion in industrial construction starts are on the west coast; $2.1 billion in the Great Lakes region; and $1.4 billion in the midwest.

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